We are currently enjoying our time at Les Noisetiers – our fifth time here since buying the house in early 2015. What an experience it has been – from setting up the house, learning how everything works here in France, getting to know people in the village and exploring the surrounding areas. We have worked hard getting the house and garden the way we want but it has definitely been a labour of love and we have learned a lot along the way. The best thing about setting up house in the small village of Montignac Charente has been getting to know people here and feeling as though we belong which is quite a different experience from going somewhere for a holiday. Some of the experiences that are a joy to us are wandering along the quay beside the Charente river into the village square and visiting the boulangerie for a fresh bauguette or pastry, buying fresh fruit and vegetables from the local daily market, having a pizza at the local restaurant, sitting on our deck beside the river for lunch, dinner or aperitifs and working in our garden. What a different experience that has been from our tropical Brisbane garden. Seeing the various flowerings throughout the seasons and getting the spring flowers planted each year including the window boxes filled with geraniums, has been such a joy. At the moment, the fragrance of jasmine is filling the air and the arbour by the river is covered with our very own grape vine. When we are back at the end of August, the grapes that are now only tiny, will be lush and ripe on the vine. Long evenings in the garden and beside the river are something that we savour as it doesn’t get dark til 10 pm and the local church chimes at 7 pm to indicate that it is time to stop work!! (Also chimes at noon every day.)
Only 6 more days now until we head home to Brisbane but already looking forward to our return visit in August/September to our little piece of paradise
It has been an interesting few months as we have managed our holiday home from afar. Luckily we have some very good people in France looking after things for us. Our first three lots of guests have arrived and by all accounts from the first two groups who have already left, they had a wonderful time. The Montignac locals made them feel very welcome and apparently ‘the Australian house’ has now become quite well known, even in neighbouring villages. The village is obviously very different in the summer than when we were there, with lots of different events happening that our guests have been able to enjoy – horse racing at the hippodrome, canoe rentals from the hippodrome (only a short walk from the house); a concert at the donjon, Bastille Day celebrations on the quay with dancing and fireworks and various markets in the local area.
Our guests have also enjoyed swimming in the river which was very welcome in the heatwave that France has just experienced. We were very pleased to find out that even on very hot days, Les Noisetiers stayed lovely and cool (courtesy of the thick stone walls). The grape vine over the table beside the river is now in full leaf – looking forward to picking grapes when we get there in September!
After spending the day and evening with Mary and Mick, we all went together to the notary in the nearby town of Ruffec to complete the sale the next morning. They then headed off around lunch time and we were on our own in our new house wondering what on earth we had let ourselves in for. They had given us so much great information but we felt somewhat overwhelmed with the enormity of what we had undertaken.
We then embarked on the adventure of setting up our new house! The next three weeks was a whirlwind of shopping, moving furniture, decorating, painting etc etc. Certainly a labour of love but a very busy time. We foraged in the local brocantes and trocs and picked up some bargains and interesting old pieces. Our favourite was Le Caverne du Dernicheur in an old railway station in St. Michel on the outskirts of Angouleme. The place was packed to the brim with old furniture. home wares and bric a brac. Had lots of fun trawling through the junk to find some treasures – an amazing alabaster stand, old pictures & lights, rush chairs, wardrobe, bedside tables, a marble topped outside table, full length mirror on a stand etc etc. Some pieces were fine as they were but some needed some restoration. Amazing what a lick of white paint will do!
I was in my element, shopping almost daily for household items and even Peter who hates shopping, enjoyed the experience. We now know what the saying means -“shop till you drop”, especially after a very long day at Ikea in Bordeaux. (Two trips to Bordeaux and we still haven’t seen the city but getting to know Ikea well.) Wine and cheese in front of the fire at night was very welcome!
Had a few ‘interesting’ moments such as getting stuck half way up the stairs with the wardrobe and realising that the doorway narrowed as we tried to move the table from the kitchen to the lounge, but all in all the two of us managed well. Luckily we had bought Mick and Mary’s trailer which certainly came in handy and the only things we had to have delivered were the beds.
We think that the house looked wonderful by the time we finished with its mix of old and new but then it was time to pack up and leave to come back to Australia. So sad to lock it up and say goodbye – till next time!
Arrived home from France a couple of weeks ago after our first adventure as French property owners. We spent 4 nights in Paris then headed down to Angouleme on the train – only took 2 1/2 hours. Mary and Mick, the sellers of Les Noisetiers met us at the train station and it was like a meeting of old friends after our months of emails back and forth since we first decided to buy their house. Mary took me on a whirlwind walking tour of the old cobbled streets of Angouleme while Mick took Peter off to Prefecture to register the car we had bought from them. Mary, a real foodie, took me around the covered food market and introduced me to the many delights of the food stalls there and purchased the makings for our lunch. We chatted over a morning coffee then Peter and Mick joined us after a successful transfer of the car registration. First step accomplished! Mary and Mick then drove us to our new home in the small village of Montignac, an easy 20 minute drive from Angouleme. First stop was to meet Thierry the owner of the daily market in the centre of the village. Apparently we were the talk of the village – why would Australians come all this way to buy a house in Montignac?
However, we were made to feel so very welcome and unexpectedly had a social life during our three weeks there as locals invited us to their homes and to meet their friends.
Our first day was spent with Mary and Mick as they helped us open a French bank account, transfer the utilities into our names and explained so much to us about the house and environs. Our heads were spinning and we were a bit overwhelmed with the enormity of what we had undertaken. A very pleasant evening with Mary and Mick in a small bistro in Angouleme was the perfect end to the first day of our new adventure!